Take a roomful of hungry tech companies looking for venture capital, put a big bank banker in front of them, and then watch closely as he tells the techies his bank actually wants to buy their innovative goods. As he lists off the top Dos and Don’ts of selling tech to a big customer, scratchpads flip open, pens fly and saliva flows.
This was the scene earlier this month at VentureFair 2004. Held in Toronto, the 9th annual event united more than 100 Canadian startups and growth companies with 60 angel investors, 56 venture capitalists, and one banker — RBC senior vice president of e-business, Tom Wolf — with some helpful advice.
Obviously, any tech company worth its silicon would definitely want a foot in the door at behemoths such as RBC, which spends more than $1.8 billion on IT every year. So here, courtesy of PROFIT, the TVG and the Royal Bank, are the Dos and Don’ts of selling to giants:
- Be ready to differentiate your product in less than 60 seconds. “We know that the smartest innovations come from small companies, but can’t know what makes you different unless you can tell us quickly and accurately.”
- Help us remember you in a positive way. “We want partners that will go the extra mile to satisfy a customer. Show us you are that partner.”
- Identify key areas, such as bill payments or telecommunications, where your technology can best help us. “Vendors often have limited knowledge in packaging a product, but unless you tell us where the tech fits, we’re left guessing.”
- Don’t expect a homerun your first time at bat. “The real winners in this game try again and again and don’t give up because of early setbacks.”
- Don’t underestimate the client’s needs. “Are you ready to deliver to a company that operates 24/7 across North America. If you don’t have the support staff to accommodate that challenge, then you aren’t ready to make the sale.”
- Don’t attempt multiple contacts across the organization.
More than a few thousand dollars are at stake here. According to Wolf, if you hit the Dos, miss the Don’ts and hone your sales pitch to a very sharp point, there’s a chance that RBC will take an equity stake in your business, roll your innovation out nationwide and jack you into the world of big-time credibility. Now that’s something to salivate about.